The fishing town of Killybegs was in a state of shock and confusion yesterday morning as one of the best known landmarks in the centre of the town failed to open with fears that up to 35 jobs had been lost.
It's just the latest in a series of closures and job loss blows for Donegal and in particular the south west pocket of the county where the busiest businesses are travel agents orgainising departures to Australia.
In another development Gardai have confirmed they are investigating a possible theft at the hotel. Inspector Denis Joyce said: "Gardai have received a report of missing items from the Bayview Hotel, Killybegs. We are commencing the process of taking a statement of complaint and cannot comment further at this time."
Locally it's understood workers were told the hotel was in receivership. However, Bernie O' Callaghan one of the directors of the hotel is reported as insisting that the hotel is solvent and was closed due to an alleged robbery of cash and goods in excess of 300,000 euro. He said the matter is now in the hands of the Gardai and hoped that the hotel will re-open soon.
Independent election candidate Cllr Thomas Pringle has condemned the manner in which the Bay View Hotel in Killybegs has been closed. Pringle said, "The Manageress was informed at 8 o' clock this morning not to show up for work and to inform other members of staff that there jobs was gone.
"All the workers are devastated of this news with some of them giving up to twenty years of service. I have been unable, to date, to contact the director but I meet with staff on the premises today and the sense of devastation and loss is palpable.
"I know that over the last few years the workers have done everything in their power to ensure the survival of the hotel.
"At the present time neither the manageress or the staff wish to speak
with the media until further clarification
"The hotel was trading successfully but I believe the level of debt has lead to this closure. I hope that a buyer can be found for the business in the very near future and the hotel open and jobs saved."
Deputy Pearse Doherty said, "This is a disgraceful situation and the owners of this hotel are treating loyal workers with utter contempt. There is a message going out that the hotel 'is closed for renovation' another that the hotel is in 'receivership'.
"Do they realise that the are dealing with human beings with families, mortgages - their futures depend on their job. Can they not come out and tell us just exactly the situation?"
Deputy Dinny McGinley said the situation highlights the grave situation in south Donegal at the moment. "With the recent job loss in Gallaghers Bakery and the knock on effects in Ardara, we are now witnessing another catastrophe in Killybegs.
"The new Government whoever is elected, will heve to earmark Donegal for priority."
Niamh Kennedy chairperson of Killybegs Community Council said the news was "desperately sad" on various levels.
"We need new life injected into this area, not closures. There's a huge emphasis being put on Sliabh League and its value but we are the nearest major town to Sliabh League and we are struggling to stay on our feet."
She said that the fishing industry had good weeks and bad weeks: "The problem is most of the fish is leaving here frozen so we have no secondary product and no opportunity for extra work. Some weeks you hear they are busy and other weeks workers are hanging on by a thread."